Shooting the Messenger

For many people it is easier to shoot the messenger than deal with the message – or so it may seem in the short run. In many cases, shooting the messenger only guarantees the content of the message will continue to pulverize your life.

If, like me, you are both inclined and often asked to help people, be prepared. You will get wounded from time to time. However, when you do get wounded, try and keep in mind that those inflicting the wounds are really reflecting how terribly difficult it is to absorb the problems they and their loved ones are facing. This does not mean that the wound will not hurt, nor does it mean that you surrender your right, should you choose to act on it, to let people know they wounded you, and, if necessary, disengage from them in life.

I have endured a few such wounds in my day and here is a case in point. During the time of my country’s bicentennial in 1976, it came to my attention that a man in my neighborhood had raped and sodomized about 10 boys, ranging in ages from 6 to 10. An accomplice held a gun on each child while this man had his way. Each boy was told he and his family would be killed if they said anything.  At any rate, I found out about this, learned the identities of some of the boys, met with two NYPD officers who were, simply put, great people, and decided to move on it. I can remember sitting in a car with the two officers as they told me I putting my life in danger by getting involved because the two men involved in the crime were likely involved in a murder and were more than capable of taking life to protect their life and their way of life. I was offered  the chance to back out.  I said no.

Anyway, the man was arrested, charged, posted bail and fled. He was later caught, convicted and jailed. One of the boy’s fathers was shot at in an attempt to silence him and it was clear a contract had been taken out on me.

During this experience it came to our attention that one of the boys who’d been victimized was the son of a neighborhood woman who had been very helpful in helping us talk with the boys. She was a social worker. When we met with her and gently let her know her son too had been victimized, she ripped into us with a fury. We, the police and myself, were called liars, opportunists, sons-of-bitches, and subsequently thrown out of the house. Painful, yes. But what would have been more painful for me, and I suspect, the two officers, would have been living with the knowledge of what her son had been through and keeping our mouths shut.

So, if you are one who is inclined to shoot the messenger, or if you are one who has done so in life, let me say this. You might, for the moment, spare yourself  some angst, but the truth in message delivered is still there and will do and likely is doing far more damage to you and yours than the messenger ever did. While shooting the messenger may, at times, be understandable, the people doing the shooting are still responsible for their actions. Period. End of story.

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